October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month which provides a great opportunity to revisit your digital footprint and evaluate where improvements can be made. Cyber insurance continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of specialty insurance, and for good reason: the threats to businesses and individuals are ever evolving and growing year over year.
The number one complaint by volume as documented by the most recent FBI Internet Crime report was phishing with a whopping total of 323,972 reported cases. Phishing is used to target individuals and businesses in an effort to steal employee credentials, financial information, and carry out business email compromise attacks which netted scammers nearly $2.4 billion last year. This figure grew by more than 30% over the prior year and comes as no surprise when you consider how much of our lives are spent online both for business and pleasure.
There are more than 5.4 billion internet users across the world and this number continues to grow with every moment. The following are snapshots of what happens every second of the day online:
- 3,195,308 emails are sent
- 10,244 Tweets are sent
- 106,604 Google searches are made
- 98,050 YouTube videos are viewed
The number of websites compromised this year has exceeded 74 million and the ransomware epidemic has surpassed $20 billion in damages when considering business interruption losses, remediation, and extortion payments experienced by organizations worldwide.
While Embroker offers specialized cyber insurance coverage which can help clients navigate a cyber security incident, there are steps every individual can take to reduce digital risk and more specifically, social engineering attacks which are a leading cause of unauthorized access to sensitive company information, systems, and more.
How to Reduce Your Personal Digital Footprint
One important step is removing personal information from data aggregation sites that can be used by scammers to obtain valuable information. The methods behind social engineering attacks can vary from gaining trust with a target, to promises of money and prizes or invoking fear and a sense of urgency when impersonating law enforcement, C-suite executives and government officials. Trust can be established when an attacker knows certain details about a target such as the names of family members and friends, place of residence, work history, personal phone number, email address, and more. This kind of personal information is collected in bulk from countless people-data sites and aggregated for anyone to access.
Use the following guide to navigate through the data removal process. Reducing your digital footprint and offering less social engineering fuel will be a step in the right direction for achieving greater protection this Cybersecurity Awareness Month and in the years to come.
Data Aggregators: Information Removal/Opt-Out Guide
In an effort to preserve your privacy while removing your content from these data collection sites, it is recommended you consider taking the following steps:
When removing your personal information from the following websites, consider creating an
anonymous email address (ex. Contactme313@) or set up an account with an email forwarding service to use for this purpose.
- The following email service providers offer users a greater sense of privacy:
These two email providers offer a secure email service with built-in end to end encryption. With end to end encryption, content within the email is not accessible by the company itself when emailing within the network (ex. ProtonMail to ProtonMail user). Only the communicating users can read the content.
- The following email forwarding services will allow you hide your true email address with any site you register:
Data removal process note: This list is not exhaustive but will provide a good start for reducing your digital footprint. Many of these sites may require your follow up before successful data removal occurs. Please be sure to record the date you initially contact the service and document once removal is verified. Be diligent.
Here’s a list of websites where you can find your personal information listed, easily accessible, and right under your nose. These websites include the ability to have your information removed. To protect yourself, your business, and your staff, it’s in your best interest to do so.
Data Aggregation Sites
Cyber Background Checks:
- Website: https://www.cyberbackgroundchecks.com/
- Data removal/opt-out: https://www.cyberbackgroundchecks.com/removal
- Website: https://www.beenverified.com/
- Data removal/Opt out: https://www.beenverified.com/f/optout/search
- Website: https://www.peoplefinders.com/
- Data removal/Opt out: https://www.peoplefinders.com/about/help/top4
True People Search:
- Website: https://www.truepeoplesearch.com/
- Data removal/Opt out: https://www.truepeoplesearch.com/removal
People Search Now:
- Website: https://www.peoplesearchnow.com/
- Data removal/opt-out: https://www.peoplesearchnow.com/opt-out
- Website: https://www.mylife.com/
- Data Removal/Opt out: Contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spydialer: (This service provides users the ability to extract the outgoing cellphone message you leave for missed calls).
- Website: https://www.spydialer.com/default.aspx
- Data removal/Opt out: https://www.spydialer.com/optout.aspx
- Website: https://www.whitepages.com/
- Data removal/opt-out: http://www.whitepages.com/suppression_requests
- Website: https://www.peekyou.com/
- Data removal/opt-out: https://www.peekyou.com/about/contact/optout/index.php
- Website: https://www.instantcheckmate.com/
- Data removal/opt-out: https://www.instantcheckmate.com/opt-out/
Instant People Finder:
- Website: https://www.instantpeoplefinder.com/
- Data removal/opt-out contact via email: email@example.com
- Website: https://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/gateway.page
- Data removal/opt-out: https://optout.lexisnexis.com
Fast People Search:
- Website: https://www.fastpeoplesearch.com/
- Data removal/opt-out: https://www.fastpeoplesearch.com/removal
People by Name:
For learn more resources and tools to help protect yourself or your business, check out Embroker’s blog here. If you’re ready to secure your future, learn more about Embroker’s Cyber Liability Insurance here.